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Prophets of Rage - Prophets of Rage (Album Review)

Monday, 18 September 2017 Written by Alec Chillingworth

Here’s the Prophets of Rage recipe: Rage Against the Machine without vocalist Zach de la Rocha, Chuck D and DJ Lord of Public Enemy, B-Real from Cypress Hill. Looks a right mess on paper, right?

And in practice, it is. But that’s part of the charm. Nothing on Prophets of Rage’s debut LP is going to shit on the rulebook like Public Enemy’s ‘Fear of a Black Planet’ or Rage’s three classic records did, nor will it shut down the New York Stock Exchange like the Sleep Now in the Fire video did in 2000. But it will make you sit up from time to time.

This is essentially Rage’s instrumental spine bashing out what they think they should be doing at this point in their career, with two MCs and a DJ along for the ride because, well, why not?

The band’s rhythm section is one of the most unique, fluid entities in rock music, and Tom Morello’s guitar is instantly recognisable as soon as Radical Eyes opens this 39-minute oddity – who wouldn’t want a piece of that?

And if you humour Prophets, then this album is fun. Legalize Me is a laid-back stoner anthem led by a vibrant B-Real, and Unfuck The World remains a track-tested crowd-pleaser. On the ridiculous Take Me Higher, B-Real says: “Yo Chuck, is that a drone up there man? Lemme go get Timmy C’s gun and shoot it out the fuckin’ sky.”

The line embodies Prophets of Rage’s silliness. And therein lies the problem. They want to be seen as revolutionaries, as politicised trailblazers like Public Enemy and Rage Against the Machine, but the substance just isn’t there. At best, the music references Rage at their bluesiest, coasting atop funky Tim Commerford basslines while Chuck D shouts like a an irate customer waiting 20 minutes for a Happy Meal. And that’s fine.

But that’s all it is. It’s not the sum of its parts. It’s nowhere near as good as Rage Against the Machine’s other bit on the side: the sadly defunct, Chris Cornell-fronted Audioslave. When it does kick up a notch, as on closing track Smashit, you can envision how much more commanding, how vital it would become with de la Rocha spitting these verses.

To their credit, at least Prophets have had a go at existing on their own merit. The result is OK. But of the 12 tracks on offer here, Unfuck The World would be the sole candidate to make the quality standard were Rage Against the Machine to pen a new album. The rest wouldn’t stand a chance.

This band's place in 2017’s musical landscape exists on nostalgia alone. Chuck D’s “rally round the family” throwback on Strength in Numbers essentially begs someone, anyone, to believe that de la Rocha isn’t out there somewhere laughing.

Prophets Of Rage Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon November 13 2017 - LONDON O2 Forum Kentish Town

Click here to compare & buy Prophets Of Rage Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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